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Is January 1 a Holy Day of Obligation?

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An icon of the Theotokos, the Mother of God. (Photo © Slava Gallery, LLC; used with permission.)

An icon of the Theotokos, the Mother of God. Egg tempera on wood, Central Russia, mid-1800's. (Photo © Slava Gallery, LLC; used with permission.)

(Photo © Slava Gallery, LLC; used with permission.)

Question: Is January 1 a Holy Day of Obligation?

In the United States and other countries, the bishops have received permission from the Vatican to abrogate (temporarily waive) the requirement for Catholics to attend Mass on certain Holy Days of Obligation, when those Holy Days fall on either Saturday or Monday. Because of this, some Catholics have become confused about whether certain Holy Days are, in fact, Holy Days of Obligation. The Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God (January 1), is one such holy day.

Answer: January 1 is the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. It is a Holy Day of Obligation. However, when it falls on a Saturday or a Monday, the obligation to attend Mass is abrogated. For instance, January 1 fell on Saturday in 2011; Catholics in the United States were not required to attend Mass. (Catholics elsewhere may be; check with your priest or your diocese to determine whether the obligation remains in effect in your country.)

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